Attorney, Civil Rights Leader, Counselor to American Presidents and Influential Powerbroker’s Life Story Illuminated in New Film

Attorney, Civil Rights Leader, Counselor to American Presidents and Influential Powerbroker’s Life Story Illuminated in New Film

Washington, D.C. — Vernon Jordan: Make It Plain spotlights the life of one of the most groundbreaking and influential African American thought leaders in the United States. Directed by acclaimed filmmaker Dawn Porter (John Lewis: Good Trouble), the one-hour film premieres Tuesday, September 1, 2020 at 8 p.m. ET on WETA PBS and will air nationally on public television stations later this year. The WETA presentation explores the remarkable journey of Vernon Eulion Jordan Jr., from modest origins to national renown as a distinguished, pioneering attorney, businessman and civil rights leader; and as an influential powerbroker and counselor to American presidents spanning the era from LBJ to Barack Obama. Jordan, 85, a partner at corporate law firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld and a principal at financial behemoth Lazard, achieved extraordinary success throughout his career endeavors, paving the way for people of color in the realms of business, law and politics. Appearing in the film are President Bill Clinton, to whom Jordan is a friend and adviser, scholar Henry Louis Gates, Jr., who describes Jordan as “the Rosa Parks of Wall Street,” and a host of other notables.

Through personal recollections, interviews with colleagues, friends and family; access to his ongoing social justice work; and archival footage; the documentary tells the story of Jordan’s early life in the segregated South and residence in America’s first African-American housing project; his service at the nation’s leading civil rights organizations and survival of an assassin’s bullet, and his success in the corridors of power. Foremost, the film illuminates Jordan’s lifelong dedication and significant contributions to the fight for civil rights and Black economic advancement ― including his participation in a lawsuit against the University of Georgia for discriminatory admissions policies; his work as a field director for the NAACP and director of the Voter Education Project; and his leadership of the United Negro College Fund and the National Urban League. Tracking his meteoric rise to power and fortune, and the sacrifices he made along the way, Vernon Jordan: Make It Plain follows one man’s attainment of the American dream as he achieved success on his own terms.

Vernon Jordan: Make It Plain is a production of Trilogy Films and presented by WETA Washington, D.C. Funding provided by JustFilms and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

WETA Washington, D.C., is one of the largest-producing stations of new content for public television in the United States and serves Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia with educational initiatives and with high-quality programming on four digital television channels. WETA productions and co-productions include PBS NewsHour, Washington Week, The Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize, The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize, performance specials from the White House and the U.S. Capitol and documentaries by filmmaker Ken Burns and scholar Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Sharon Percy Rockefeller is president and CEO. More information on WETA and its programs and services is available at

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  • VernonJordanMakeItPlain_Release.pdf

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